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Benny Peiser Comments On The Defeat Of The 2030 Decarbonisation Target Amendment

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Robyn Wilson blog

After yesterday’s vote in the House of Commons on a 2030 decarbonisation target in the UK’s Energy Bill, I spoke with the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s (GWPF) director, Dr Benny Peiser.

Dr Peiser, whose group is the leading think tank [assessing] climate [policy] to date, said the vote is a signal that the government is moving away from making any further commitments.

“I think it certainly shows that there’s less appetite for unilateral targets. I mean the government clearly doesn’t want to introduce another unilateral target. And the green lobby, which did a really big lobbying job on this amendment didn’t get it through – so I think there’s a signal being sent out for the time being at least: the government doesn’t want to take on any additional unilateral targets.

He added, “Obviously this isn’t the last vote. This goes to the House of Lords, so we will have to wait and see, but I would think that the time where you have an automatic majority for these kinds of policies is over.”

Looking forward, Dr Peiser said it was difficult to predict what was on the cards when the vote moves to the House of Lords.

“I would expect a similarly close, narrow vote in the House of Lords. Obviously, it would put a huge spanner in the whole energy policy if it were to be introduced through the House of Lords. It would then come back to the House of Commons but, as I said, there is no appetite for these targets at the minute and I think it would also make a lot of the policies more difficult, particularly Britain’s move to shale gas would be extremely difficult if we had this big target – so I guess we have to wait and see.

The GWPF director wasn’t surprised that the majority of Liberal Democrats voted against their own policy. He said, “Most Lib Dem MPs have some sort of government position, so when they’re whipped, they’d lose their job, they could lose their perks [if they rebelled]. It shows you that when it comes to politics there are no principles and it’s all down to being whipped into the right position. Even Ed Davey at some point was in favour of it, but clearly the Treasury made a deal with DECC and now there’s a deal, there’s a coalition so everyone has to compromise.

He continued, “Obviously, it’s a compromise between the Treasury and DECC and part of that compromise would be for DECC not demand a 2030 target and that they instead would get a carbon floor price [and billions of low-carbon  subsidies].”

Robyn Wilson, 6 June 2013